A visit from the equine dentist

Today Krystin Dennis at http://www.horsefloss.com/ came to check the boy’s teeth. Over the years I’ve hired quite a variety of dentists to work on the boys.
My goal this time was to find someone who was kind and patient and would work with the horses in respectful partnership.
I also wanted a dentist who understood the principles of balancing the mouth, including the incisors.
A dentist who used hand tools only, or limited use of power tools combined with hand tools was also a goal. (I will add that my goals have changed after some things I learned today. More on that later…) Krystin was trained by Spencer LaFlure at the Advanced Whole Horse Learning Center.So, here’s what Krystin found and more about what I learned:

Lucky really liked Krystin. She took the time for him to examine all the tools and check her out. She demonstrated how the speculum worked and let him try it. (She went through this explanation process with all the horses). Lucky was cooperative and relaxed, and quite willing to just hang out with Krystin when she was done working on him. He had a lovely soft eye throughout the process. He needed a bit of work on both molars and incisors, and overall had a healthy mouth with no impacts from previous incorrect tooth work.

Pony pony (Snowflake) had an interesting experience. I suspect that Pony has had minimal dental care over the years, and she is now in her mid 20s (at least). She was a bit fearful of this new procedure. Krystin coaxed her through it with patience and made allowances for pony’s blindness. Kristen found lots of washboard texture in her molars, issues with the incisors, and wolf teeth. Happily, Pony appears to have plenty of tooth left at her age, and no damage from power tools, so with a bit more balancing she should be in great shape.

Ben had some issues with his mouth, the biggest being that his molars are worn almost to the gum line. He is missing 3 molars, and has some brittle teeth, likely from overheating with a power tool. Ben was relaxed and cooperative with Krystin and appreciated all her encouragement and explanations during the process. At this stage in his life, Ben is going to need supplemental hay pellets and pelleted grain, both soaked. He can still chew a bit, however, not enough to sustain himself. I use timothy hay pellets from Standlee Hay. I find these locally at For Pete’s Sake in Middletown, MD. The Standlee website has a search feature for local dealers if you are not near MD. I may add just a smidge of alfalfa pellets, depending on how Ben does. I am a fan of pellets rather than cubes, as bits of baling twine and wire can (and do) hide in cubes from some manufacturers. For grain, Ben gets Dynamite Pelleted Grain Ration (PGR). I am not a fan of most commercial senior feeds, as they contain beet pulp, sugar, oils, preservatives, manufacturing by-products, etc. (This is a subject for another post)
Sadly, Poco’s teeth were in fairly poor shape. His molars are down to the gumline and there are likely some other issues as well. Poco was not able to get past his trust issues, and Krystin and I agreed he was just too fragile physically today to risk tranquilizing him. Poco is only able to eat mashes at this point. He’ll be getting the same combination of hay pellets and Dynamite PGR as Ben, as well as some additional supplements.
A side note here: the last dentist to work on Poco had an accident with the tranquilizer. Poco jerked his neck, and the needle went into his carotid artery, sending the drugs right to his brain. He immediately went into seizures, fell down, and stopped breathing. We were able to ressucitate him with some some radionic work and energy work (no vets were close enough to make it in time). While I work on getting his weight back up and boosting his overall strength, I will also be doing some EFT to help Poco (and myself) past the trauma of his near-death experience. If you choose to tranquilize, please make sure you or the practitioner know the correct technique.

Foster’s teeth were in fairly good shape, and he allowed Krystin into his mouth without drugs, which is a huge change. Foster tried to squash the last dentist.

Some key things I learned today:
There is evidence that power tools can heat the tooth and make it brittle. I could actually hear a different tone when heated teeth were filed, over untouched teeth.
A horse only has about 4″ of molar to work with in his lifetime. Aggressive floating causes the teeth to wear out prematurely.
You can float a horse’s teeth correctly without opening the speculum to the widest setting the jaw allows.
Incisors must be floated, and must have a correct cutting surface. Old-time dentists knew this and did it. Somehow the knowledge was lost.
It is important to leave a cutting edge on the molars. This will not harm the cheek, as the horse pushes the cheek away from the edge during the chewing motion.
Bloodless tooth floating is possible.

Overall, todays experience was excellent. I was thrilled to see the horses connecting with Krystin and participating in the experience.

Until next post, be healthy and happy!
Carrie and the equine gang

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.


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